Rick Perry: Liberty Is Key to Restoring African American Communities

(Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry / Photo: AP)

The reason we’ve had the political year we’ve had is because fewer American remember how well liberty can serve them and their families.

That’s according to two-time presidential candidate and 47th Governor of Texas Rick Perry, who addressed the issue of disillusionment in America at the 43rd annual meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) this week in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Perry began by honestly and openly languishing the fact that the Conservative movement, still thriving in dozens of states and across a wide swath of the nation, is nevertheless losing at the national level as represented by the electoral college.

“But here is a truth that we in this room have to confront: Winners don’t make excuses,” Perry said. “We haven’t done enough to show people who don’t share our views why they should come over to our side.”

The purpose of his speech, then, was to paint a new portrait of Conservatism for groups of Americans who don’t traditionally skew toward the right, specifically African Americans. While Perry acknowledged Conservatives typically have no problem “preaching to the converted,” he admitted the movement needs to work on reframing its argument for those who harbor antipathy for its principles.

“We haven’t done enough to show people who don’t share our views why they should come over to our side”

Perry explained how those very same Conservative principles have, nevertheless, helped bring African American Texans out of poverty and lowered crime rates in urban areas at rates unseen in other parts of the nation. These successes in turn made life safer and more prosperous for black communities in the Lone Star State, but Perry stressed the reality that Conservatives must still do more to earn the trust of African-Americans.

“We can do more,” Perry said with regard to criminal justice reform and continuing the fight for civil rights. “And we can do it while keeping our low-income communities safe from crime.”

The path toward accomplishing this goal is multi-fold, Perry said, but it starts with getting overlooked populations access to well-paying jobs. This includes former convicts, who should not be barred from work simply because of past mistakes for which they have already served their time.

“President Obama and Secretary Clinton say that the best way to reduce crime is through more welfare,” Perry said. “But here is what I have seen in my time in public service: the best welfare program in American is a job.”

With many Americans desiring to leave welfare and return to work, yet not having the financial incentive to do so, it creates a trap that fosters disillusionment among impoverished groups and feelings of being excluded from the American Dream.

Perry went on to outline specific policy points on how to get these underserved groups of Americans back on the path to success, including plans to keep non-violent offenders out of prison, lift barriers to well-paying urban jobs, incentivize work, reform failing schools, provide access to affordable college education and making rent cheaper in America’s cities.

If you want to learn more about Perry’s goals to “leave America better than we found it,” check out his full speech here.

Evan Smith is a Staff Writer for Opportunity Lives. You can follow him on Twitter @Evansmithreport.